N1AV (x-N1RWY) on the air

Ham radio, hiking, coffee, and other tech talk.

Unfinished Business Tour -N1V to KH6- 2023

Information will be updated as I get it. More pics will be added soon.

The KH6 location, flights, and ground transportation are all secured.
I will be back to Hawaii to operate 1296 MHz and 900 MHz EME from March 5-9th, 2023 from the island of Oahu. This would be the 6-10th UTC time.

Projected operating time:
Hawaii / UTC
5th 5:21 PM local. 03:21 UTC on the 6th (MR until lack of activity)
6th 6:12 PM local. 04:12 UTC on the 7th (MR until lack of activity)
7th 7:03 PM local. 05:03 UTC on the 8th (MR until lack of activity)

2/10/23 UPDATE: W2HRO will also be joining N1V this year. Excited to have him on board!

2/17/23 UPDATE: Dish has been completely refreshed by W2HRO with new fabric, new 1.5″ support pole, and feed tweaks.

2/21/23 UPDATE: I had a few requests (mostly by locals) to see if I could get on HF while out in Hawaii. I made a 100w rated linked dipole for 10m/12m/15m and 17m to hang in the 1 palm tree on the property. I have NO set schedule for HF activity. This activity will be a time filler and I will be on at random times. I will not be on HF if the moon is up. HF activity will be SSB and FT8. 75-100w and a low dipole. It is what it is. LOTW for QSLs.

During my last visit to Hawaii, I felt the weather kept me from working everyone I wanted, so I am going back to finish the job. I will be working holiday / sked style during the time time I am there. My focus on my MR will be EU stations, then shifting to US. My west moon view is not great, but I am willing to work with folks for skeds. Note, I am blocked the last 25 degrees of MS due to mountains, I do not have a window for EU MR, only EU MS. I will use Moonnet and HB9Q logger for operating announcements and I will be using the callsign N1V.

3/4/23 UPDATE:

2.4m folding dish looking NE over the ocean in BL11
2.4m folding dish looking NE over the ocean in BL11

Arrive on the island on 3/3 and set up to work K5QE for his 50th state on 3/4. Very windy (15-20 MPH) but good visible moon in party cloudy conditions. The W2DRZ controller tied to the W2HRO SL-1 Expedition rotor was constantly engaging the rotor to keep it on the moon, trying to deal with the sway. Had multiple -22 decodes on K5QE, which tells me I was not quite on the moon, but close enough for a try. I hit the transmit on the software and I see 50w out of the homebrew W6PQL amplifier via the Bird 43. Uh oh…. 50W is not the 300w that I should be seeing. Flash forward 3 hours I am trying to fix the problem (not knowing what it was) swapping cables, IF rigs, transverters, etc.. I ended up going QRT with issues on the TX side. Not a lot of sleep that night as I was thinking about what the issue was..

3/5/23 UPDATE:

I get up early, drink a health dose of coffee and start the mix and match game – trying to figure out what exactly is the issue with the system. Is it an IF rig issue? Reset the flex and start all over. Is it a XVRTR issue? Swap from the 25w Q5 to an older DEM 3w. Same results. Swap cables multiple times to see if it is a bad cable. Tear down the 1296 system and put the 902 system up. That works fine! So, IF rig (Flexradio 6400M) is working as it should. Cross that off the list. Five hours of trouble shooting and a few phone calls to folks who have similar systems.. we decide that it IS the RF deck. I CAN get to 120w with close to 10w of drive. (I should be seeing about 600w at 10w).. but I have no idea how long this will last operating this way. I decide to swap the deck with the spare deck I brought with me, just in case this happens.

W6PQL pallet, on the cook stove as a work bench.
W6PQL pallet, on the kitchen cook stove as a work bench.

Only 1 problem.. (maybe 2) I don’t have a soldering iron that can work on the deck that has a big heatsink (I need at least a 100w iron, and all I had was a 40w pencil) and my Swiss army knife version of a Phillips head screw driver was stripping out the screws that hold the copper spreader to the heatsink… SO.. a trip to town! We find a generic 8 bit screw driver kit in the local pharmacy (since the hardware store is located in Laie, and is closed on Sunday) and then find a 150w soldering gun in another hardware store 40 min up the road. With 3 house to moonrise, I start in on removing the older deck and replacing it with the new one, paying particular attention to the input and output coax connections so I don’t make the mistake I did last year, and then scraping off the old heatsink compound with my fingernails and dabbing it on the new board. What a chore, but I got at least a VERY thin layer of heatsink compound on the copper spreader, and there was some still on the heatsink from the older pallet. Done. Checked all the connections about about 3 times, cleaned up the output connection with rubbing alcohol, then tighten up the screws through the copper spreader to the heatsink and cased it all back up.
I set the flex for low drive and started to work my way up. Hitting 300w out with about 3-4w input, I tested this several times and called it good. I did notice I have about 50w of sag, but I am thinking that might be to the lack of heatsink compound on the copper spreader as it heats up. With running this 700w rated board at 300w – I should be OK. With an hour to moonrise I sent off about 6 texts to different folks who had heard about my issues from the day before, letting them know I would be operational! Wahoo! Exciting.

I get on a moonrise to work skeds with OK1IL and K5QE, both of them need Hawaii for #50. For the first 12 degrees of moon I hear nothing. My phone is blowing up with texts from about 8 folks asking me on my status. Paul W2HRO is playing with the tracking software on the other laptop and trying to catch sight of the moon when it breaks the clouds. I am messing with the software and the radio. I decide to change the LNA. Boom. K5QE is there calling me -22. We work in 4 minutes. Done. New WAS holder on 1296! OK1IL I hear several times, but by now, we are down in his trees on his MS and is not hearing me reply. I try for another 20 minutes before calling it and moving down to 1296.055 where I know there are some EU stations waiting to work me. Last year trying to hand aim in the wind I saw very few stations clearly. This year, with the SL-1 Expedition rotor and the fabric overhaul on the dish, what a difference. 3 and 4 callers at a time. WHAT FUN! I work a few EU stations that still had moon, then several US stations who were looking for me, including W7JW for his 50th state on his birthday no less! Awesome, two folks working their last state for WAS tonight. Very glad to have been part of it!

lava rock anchor system
Lava rocks for my anchor weights, the SL1 Expedition rotor bagged up due to passing showers.

Worked list for this evening: 16 stations, 17 contacts. Q65 60C CFOM.

K5QE EM31 Q65 -22 Rcvd: -19 #50 for 1296 WAS
K7EME DM42 Q65 -31 Rcvd: -23
PA0PLY JO32 Q65 -22 Rcvd: -20 (1 degree of moon on his end)
W7JW Q65 -25 Rcvd: -22 #50 #50 for 1296 WAS
N9HF Q65 -23 Rcvd: -22
EA8DBM IL18 Q65 -22 Rcvd: -22
N9LHS Q65 -22 Rcvd: -22
N0LNO Q65 Sent: -21 Rcvd: -20
AC0RA Q65 Sent: -21 Rcvd: -20
WH6A Q65 Sent: -23 Rcvd: -22
W5GLD EM15 Q65 Sent: -21 Rcvd: -21
KD5FZX EM12 Sent: -15 Rcvd: -15
W6TCP CM97 Q65 Sent: -27 Rcvd: -22
KB2SA Q65 Sent: -21 Rcvd: -22
VE6TA DO33 Q65 Sent: -18 Rcvd: -15
KB2SA Q65 30D! Sent: -20 Rcvd: -23
W7JW Q65 30D! Sent: -24 Rcvd: -22

Paul and I shut down the station with the moon at 38 degrees. The amp stayed cool running at 225 to 250w all night long with the 2.4m W2HRO dish. We will be back on tomorrow at MR, with a focus on EU stations until their MS, then chasing any stateside stations left who want to try and work me. I know there are 2 other stations out there (both EU) who will be looking for me for their WAS. Awesome!

Thanks all for the thrills tonight. Super fun for a night that was supposed to be a washout with rain and storms. The gods were smiling upon us! Looking forward to getting on the moon tomorrow!

I should also mention that I am on 10 and 12m during the day here with 100w and a linked dipole when the XYL and I are not out and about doing vacation things. The solar noise is TERRIBLE but I have been making QSOs during the day on 10 and 12m if anyone is interested.

3/6/23 UPDATE:

Yesterday was another good day. One of the advantages of the SL-1 Expedition rotor over hand aiming is that I can park the dish at the MR azimuth of the next day. That way I have one less thing to worry about on the setup I know I am right where I should be at MR.

Dish soon after MR. (W2HRO pic) Note the water in the rock in front of the dish, that is from surf splash the night before.

Winds were 1-3 mph, very light which always helps with aiming. I was on the HB9Q logger early and started tracking and calling on the moon starting at -2 degrees. Shooting over the ocean with no obstructions other than the coast of California 2500 miles away, I figured I would give it a go. It was shocking to see SM6CKU decode with .6 degrees of moon. Not 6 degrees, .6! Just over 1/2 a degree of moon and a massive signal. We worked with less than 1.5 degree of moon over the ocean. What a massive trace on the waterfall to start the day!

Completed at 1.5 degrees of moon over the ocean!

From there, it was off to the races, working the highly skilled operators at the W2ZQ club station before jumping back to EU stations. I knew I had two stations left for a full sweep of the 4 stations needing Hawaii for their #50 on 1296 and WAS, so I was on the hunt for OK1IL and DK3WG. Ivan and I had partials the first night I was on, but not enough to complete, and I didn’t hear him the second night. I didn’t see Jurg the first night but he had a great signal we worked quickly. Congrats on all 50 states Jurg!

At some point soon after this something happened in the software or the radio and my frequency was not lining up with what folks were seeing on their end. I did a reboot of the flex and the computer and it seemed to clear up the issue. I did manage to work a few others during this time – congrats to you all finding and working me . Sorry all for the confusion -the reboot fixed it. I saw N0CTR several times when I was working some of the EUs then he came back again and were were able to complete. Great signal. Tony, K8ZR who gave me WAS #10 on 1296 jumped in there and I was able to snag him as well. Coffee and Crown on me in Dayton Tony! I had my eye on Charlie, N0AKC, in the logger who was having aiming issues with his brand newly installed dish that he just got up earlier this week. His install is so new in fact that his operating bench was a folding table OUTSIDE IN THE SNOW with all of his gear on the table to try to work us in Hawaii. EME’ers are dedicated!

N0AKC Snow EME QSOs.. at least the amplifier is cool!

A few folks had texted or emailed Paul and wanted to know what the operating position was like – so he snapped this pic of me at the operating bench with the dish in the window. Thanks for the fancy new motion activated headlamp Paul, it will become part of the expedition kit. Note the two laptops, 1 to run the rotor control tracking for the W2DZR controller and the other for logging, WSJT-X and HB9Q chat, and of course cables everywhere!

N1AV running the station on 1296 in BL11bo.

My standard dinner (and lunch) out here in Hawaii is fresh poke – raw Ahi tuna. The local grocery store has some of the best “spicy Ahi poke” on the island, which is a combination of tuna, scallions, spicy mayo and some other bits of goodness. Put a couple of scoops of that over a bed of rice and a handful of cashews over top, wow, sooo good! I might never make it to Japan, so Hawaiian poke is some of the freshest sushi I have ever eaten. I enjoy it when I can! No, I am not one of those types who take pics of their food and put it on social media.. but damn – this stuff is awesome and I had to share with you all.

N1V powered by local sushi!

Worked list for the evening: 12 new stations, 14 contacts.

SM6CKU JO67 Q65 Sent: -15 Rcvd: -15
W2ZQ FN20 Q65 Sent: -24 Rcvd: -19
IK3COJ Q65 Sent: -22 Rcvd: -15
DK3WG JO72 Q65 Sent: -23 Rcvd: -21 #50 for 1296 WAS
W5AFY Q65 Sent: -24 Rcvd: -19
N0CTR EN26 Q65 Sent: -20 Rcvd: -20
W5LUA EM13 Q65 Sent: -18 Rcvd: -15
AA6I Q65 Sent: -24 Rcvd: -24
N5BF DM04 Q65 Sent: -24 Rcvd: -22
K5QE EM31 Q65 Sent: -19 Rcvd: -20
K8ZR EN91 Q65 Sent: -25 Rcvd: -20
N0AKC EN44 Q65 Sent: -24 Rcvd: -25
KB2SA Q65 Sent: -20 Rcvd: -20
VK2JDS QF46 MFSK Q65 Sent: -18 Rcvd: -18

Thank you everyone for your patience.

Looking forward to the next pass I have a few stateside stations that I know I can work if we go to 120D, which is the plan for tonight assuming I can get on, I will chat this option on the HB9Q logger tonight. We have a gayle warning with high winds and thunderstorms planned for tonight. Not sure when it is going to get here. But If I CAN get on, I will be on for MR for the VERY SHORT EU window with a focus on working OK1IL and other EU stations – and then about an hour for stateside qsos before I jump to 902 MHz EME to grab some of those guys as tomorrow I think is going to be a bad weather day. I will know more later today!
Fingers crossed.

3/7/23 UPDATE:

Those that know me know that I am very competitive and goal focused. Having 1 fella out there that needed Hawaii for WAS still unworked was taking up a lot of free rent space in my mind overnight. I knew that Ivan has been waiting for over a year to try and work Hawaii for WAS. We had partials last year, but were not able to complete. Today we had a 20 minute window to try and get it done. The moon was very low on his horizon, but it was clear and not blocked by the house. Knowing this, I spent a LOT of extra time making sure the azimuth was correct for the start of MR. I also had some extra pressure today due to a gayle wind warning. Thunderstorms, heavy rain, lightning, and 40 MPH winds were expected tonight into tomorrow, with big winds continuing into tomorrow night.. which means my first night of 902 EME would be screwed due to weather. So, I formulated a plan to call Ivan for the entire 20 minutes of his window, ignoring other callers if needed to give us the best chance of working. Then stay on for the entire EU window to close, and then pick up any US / VE stations that I have not worked yet, running 120D or whatever we needed. Basically by 20 degrees, I would be off 1296 and then replace the feed and recable for 902 to try work some of the 902 EME guys all before the wind and rain arrived. So, a lot of moving parts based around the weather that I could not control.
At -2 degrees I turned on the tracking software for the SL-1 Expedition rotor and started calling. Several stations on the mainland US were watching for my signal and right at about -.5 degrees they started seeing traces. Then I get this message from one of the monitor stations.
“I see a very good trace, it is you calling OK1IL, signal strength is -12!! I have never seen you that loud before”.

Wahoo! We are getting some ocean gain or something happening as the moon is just rising over the ocean. Within a few cycles I started to see traces right on my DF on the waterfall.. Then boom.. a decode. I respond.. Another decode.. I respond.. and it is over! -25 N1V OK1IL RRR. We are worked! I look at the WSJT-X Astronomical Data window and see that we completed with 2.7 degrees of moon. Amazing! 2.4m folding dish and 225-250w, with a AGO preamp on my end. WAHOO! FOUR for FOUR – all the fellas who needed HI for 1296 WAS worked. I could feel a massive wave of relief flowing over me as an elephants weight of stress left my body. I was sitting in the operating seat fist pumping like a 20 year old at a rave party. So excited to have made that happen.

Dish and moonrise 3 degrees of moonrise
Moon rise over the ocean. Photo by V.Baack

From there I picked up a few more EU stations and then slide stateside to work a pair of VEs (3m dish stations) and I hung out a little extra for N5TM to receive a phone call to wake him up and tell him get on the air as Hawaii was waiting for him. We worked in about 7 minutes. Not bad for his homebrew dish and just making up.

Soon after I jumped to 902. Changing the feed with the 902 feed, reconnecting the TX/RX lines as well as the control cables to the dish, then reconnecting the IF and Q5 XVRTR to the 902 sequencer and the 300w Motorola amplifier. I power everything on and … hello S5 noise. UG! Noise city on 902. Not good. I put the AGO filter in between the preamp and the XVRTR, no real change. We flip polarity to vertical and it is even worse. Paul and I brain storm and made some adjustments on the flex and end up putting the AGO filter in front of the AGO LNA. Noise drops from S5 to S1-S2. BIG difference. After about an hour of delay I am back operational, knowing that the corn fed guys are all standing around in a party tent next to the dish that was just planted in the frozen Iowa ground 4 days ago.

Corn Fed EME Crew testing the dish 4 days ago from the back of AC0RA’s truck. (AC0RA photo)

Within a few minutes we stared seeing Wyatt, and soon after we completed. Great signals from his 12′ dish and 400w. Then we worked the rest of the crew. Easy copy with no need for duplicated once I was able to tame the receive issues on 902.090.

Big smiles all around for 3 AM on a work day and 31 degrees F outside?

Corn Fed Crew all smiles after working Hawaii on 902 EME.

For those of you thinking about getting on EME, 902 EME is a rush. LOW power, 200-400w is able to work all the other stations currently running with a 2.4m dish or larger with a simple linear feed. Yes, it is a small population, but that makes it even more competitive and fun! Email me if you are interested in getting on. Super fun!

Stations worked tonight: 7 on 1296, 5 on 902 MHz

OK1IL JN69 Q65 Sent: -25 Rcvd: -27 #50 WAS 1296
DG0FE JO62 Q65 Sent: -18 Rcvd: -20
IQ2DB JN45 Q65 Sent: -20 Rcvd: -26
KA1GT Q65 Sent: -20 Rcvd: -19
VE3NXK FN05 Q65 Sent: -27 Rcvd: -24
VE3KRP EN58 Q65 Sent: -24 Rcvd: -18
N5TM EL29 Q65 Sent: -25 Rcvd: -23

902 EME stations worked. The Corn Fed EME Crew
AC0RA EN42 Q65 Sent: -23 Rcvd: -24
K0DAS EN42 Q65 Sent: -23 Rcvd: -24
KC0TYD EN42 Q65 Sent: -25 Rcvd: -30
KC0SKM EN42 Q65 Sent: -24 Rcvd: -30
N0LNO EN42 Q65 Sent: -24 Rcvd: -27

Thanks all for the patience, and looking forward to some more 902 EME nights this week. All contact uploaded to LOTW.

3/8/23 UPDATE:

The second night of 902 EME we were met with light winds (can’t believe this weather) due to the direction. The gayle warning was blowing some serious wind in Honolulu and waves on the north shore were 20-35′. Major rip tides and all the beaches were closed. The wind at one point knocked out the power and internet to the home for about 6 hours. All the local shops were closed, but the local beer garden was still open! (Well, at least for a few hours before the kegs got warm and foamy.)

Pa’u Hana!

The XYL and I enjoyed a few rounds and headed back to the house wondering if power will come back on before MR. About 2 hours before MR, power was restored, and internet soon after that. We were back in business! We got on for MR and saw the same ground gain enhancement for the first 3 degrees of the pass. Some were reporting that the ground gain was enhancing our signal as much as 6dB on our TX signal – which is very interesting that this was happening on both 1296 and 902 MHz. At about .5 degrees I started decode stations, and quickly worked W5LUA and VE6TA as well as K5DOG as a new initial for HI to TX on 902 EME. We were running H pole the entire time (TX/RX) while some of the others were a mix of TX V RX H or TX / RX H. Interesting as polarity was shifting throughout the country. Three other 902 stations were not able to get on due to weather. Done working stations in about 20 degrees of moon.

Station list worked:

K5DOG EM00 Q65 Sent: -24 Rcvd: -21
VE6TA DO33 Q65 Sent: -19 Rcvd: -17
W5LUA EM13 Q65 Sent: -21 Rcvd: -21

3/9/23 UPDATE:

Make up sked night on 1296 (20 min window to G4 land) and 902. Partial calls, no stations worked on both bands.

3/10/23 UPDATE:

We extended 902 by 1 night to try and work the last 3 stations who were ready on 902 to work us out in Hawaii. We ran for three hours and ended up working 1 of the two stations on. We changed LNAs, broke some SMA connectors, 12V power supply lines, and flip flopped the feed a few times from H to V until we figured out the best solution 902 MHz EME provides some challenges, namely a lot of noise from consumer electronics. If I had not brought my AGO 902 filter none of the 902 contact would have happened. It is a critical part of the 902 EME package in high noise environments.

AN AGO filter and LNA is a solid setup for 902 EME.

Thanks Tommy! It is a great filter for knocking out the buzzes, beeps, and random bits of noise on the band.

Worked list:
WA3RGQ EL98 Q65 Sent: -23 Rcvd: -27 New initial – FL to HI.

3/11/23 UPDATE:

Pack day. Tearing all the gear down and packing in pelican cases and the dish “coffin” box. Making sure all the cables and parts make it back with me on the flight,

The big difference from last year the was the addition of the SL-1 Expedition rotor. It is a game changer for those using the folding dishes and hand aiming. The combination of the the SL-1 and the W2DRZ controller with the auto adjustment feature when the dish was moving more than a degree off the moon was a great addition to the station to keep me on the moon and working stations.

SL-1 rotor with color coded control cables. A lightweight rotor for the 2.4m folding dish.

When I was planning this second trip I decided to call it the “Unfinished Business Tour” as I know I left a lot of contacts on the table. This year we were able to give out Hawaii to 4 stations for WAS, a pile of new stations on 1296 as well as work a few more initials on 902 EME. For me, the Unfinished Business Tour is now finished.

I am starting to plan the Hawaii 2024 trip and I am looking at bringing a few more bands. 2.3 GHz, 10 GHz and possible one other. I am looking for feedback on what would be the most popular and most needed! Please leave comments in the comment section as to which bands you think would be the most needed.

Frequency and sequence will be determined based on local QRM. (Currently planning on 1296 is 1296.055 2nd +- for QRM on 1296. I will self spot on HB9Q logger. )
I will be on 902.090 +- noise for two passes, most likely the 8th and 9th for those looking for HI on 902 MHz EME.
Digital: Q65 60C OR 30C sequences. I will be running CFOM. I will announce on HB9Q logger
CW: CW contacts will be attempted after ALL digital callers are worked, assume the 7th. 902 ops should plan on the 9th.

2.4m Sub-lunar folding dish, AGO preamps, homebrew PQL amplifier (1296) running 250w. Motorola amplifier (902) 175-200w. Sub-lunar SL-1 Expedition rotor control with W2DZR control box for computer assisted aiming. Flexradio Systems 6400M and Q5 systems transverters for 1296 and 902 MHz. GPSDO with 10 MHz low pass filter locks it all on frequency.

2022 KH6 expedition link.


I want to thank the following stations who have contributed to this DXpedition. It is appreciated!
(Marshall, K5QE, Tommy, WD5AGO, Frank, NC1I, Paul, W2HRO, Jim, W6PQL, Ivan OK1IL)

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  1. Dave March 13, 2023

    Jay, the only band I have left to work Hawaii on is 432. Thank you for the 1296 contact.

  2. Zdenek March 6, 2023

    Sorry, do not catch you this pedition, I have only 25min window and many other from EU, which need you, are waitnig.
    GL and 73!

  3. Jan March 6, 2023

    Jay et all, thanks for the nice QSO.
    It was really on the edge.

    Goodluck and best 73’s to all.

    Br. Jan

  4. Jan March 5, 2023

    Jay et all,
    Arrived safely on Hawai?
    Look forward to get your signals

    Br. Jan, PAoPLY

    • N1AV March 6, 2023 — Post Author

      Glad we were able to work with 1 degree of moon on your end!
      THANK YOU for your patience.

  5. Jon N0JK February 26, 2023

    I will be in Maui March 4 – 10. Probably no opportunity to visit in person. I will bring my FT-991A so will be QRV 50, 144 and 432 MHz. If interested in trying 432 MHz let me know. We will be in Wailea with a clear shot towards Ohau. I have known WD5AGO many years.

    — N0JK

    • N1AV February 27, 2023 — Post Author

      John, If you could make it.. that would be 4 mainland VHFers on the islands at the same time.   The only bands I will have for VHF will be 902 and 1296 – brining the flex 6400 as the IF rig.
      Are you going to see Tom, NH6Y while there in Maui?

  6. Jurg February 24, 2023

    Hello friends,
    I hope to work you from KH6 to fixed my WAS # 50.
    Best greetings, Jurg, DK3WG

    • N1AV February 24, 2023 — Post Author

      Greeting Jurg,
      I had the dish refurbed in the past two weeks, it is hearing excellent from the testing I have done this week.
      This with the new SL1 Expedition rotor should be a killer combination!

  7. Doug MIllar February 10, 2023

    Where will you be operating from? I’ll be in Oahu about then. Doug

    • N1AV February 10, 2023 — Post Author

      Near Laie.
      We should plan on a meet up. Drop me an email. – Jay

  8. Dave November 9, 2022

    Jay, Linda and I will both be happy to work you in KH6 on 1296.
    Dave N9HF and Linda N9LHS

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